Monthly Archives: April 2010

Go to Bed

I give the people what they want - stuff that grows on docks part III.

I was thinking about my last update when I came across this New York Times post reporting that people who sleep more eat less. Specifically: when a group of men slept 8 hours they consumed 22% fewer calories than they slept only 4 hours. In case you weren’t already inspired enough.

I’m going to bed now.  You should too.  

The Basics

I'm not always good.

Over Easter weekend, Josie’s grandma sent her a beaded bracelet. I was sitting at Josie’s little table, my knees tucked comfortably under my chin, when Josie decided Mommy should wear the bracelet. I pulled my fingers together and she slid it onto my wrist. Then she took one step back, crossed her arms, tilted her head to one side and then to the other and said, “Oh, cute!”

I don’t know exactly when she saw me do that but it was clearly me. No question. We’ve moved into the mimic phase. Speaking of little mimics, I have a funny story to share: one day when my sister went to pick up her two-and-a-half-year-old from daycare, my niece pulled a baggie of snacks out of her bag, held it up and said, I kid you not, “These aren’t my f*cking goldfish.” Gee, I wonder where she picked up that sentence construction and vocabulary. Ah, I do love that story.

My point: I’ve been trying to be a good girl. I try not to curse… often, I wash my hands frequently, and I try to eat well and get plenty of sleep.

I haven’t always been a good eater. I was on an elimination diet – no gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, egg or nuts – when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had chronic abdominal pain and gi problems and I thought of food as something that made me sick. I ate plain chicken and steamed vegetables. I drank distilled water. That was it. I was all knees and elbows and weighed 30 pounds less than I do now.   

After my cancer diagnosis, a nutritionist pointed out that if I didn’t start eating, and stop losing weight, I wouldn’t be able to get chemo. And then where will you be? Not much later, I saw a naturopath who told me the most important things I could do were eat and sleep.

These two statements revolutionized my approach to health. I had always thought of diet and nutrition as vaguely important, but in my previous healthier days, I ate primarily for pleasure or to fill my stomach. Gradually, I began to think of eating as an opportunity to stay healthy through chemo and to boost my immune system.

Even when I got busy and run-down from treatment, my goals were clear. Meal planning, grocery (and sometimes handbag) shopping, and cooking, activities that used to be conducted on a time available basis, were suddenly worth cancelling plans to accomplish.

Let’s just stop there and think about this: cancelling plans so you can go to the grocery store.

Is there anything more important than your health? Eating and sleeping, these are the skills I want my little mimic to learn.

Now tell me about you. Do you make eating and sleeping priorities? Have I told you how much I love it when you leave me comments? Have I mentioned how cute you look today?


Just Pretty

I’ve been looking for something important to say today. I’ve been reading the health section of various newspapers, toxin blogs, green blogs. I’m just not feeling it. Nothing. So instead I’m going to post some pretty (I hope) pictures.

What could be better?

We went to a friend’s house and got to jump on a trampoline. A big one. Have I mentioned that I bought her a trampoline? It’s a little one – just a place to burn off some extra energy. The good news: she loves it. The bad news: it’s in our living room. Awesome, just what I’ve always wanted.  

Good Fun

We went to a friend’s princess pony birthday party. Yes, that’s a party with real princess dresses and a real white pony decorated with pink and purple spots, colorful tail and a unicorn horn strapped to its head. It was awesome.

Fashion Plate

Suspense (and BPA-free Canned Tomatoes!)

I know you’re all dying for another weekly installment in the stuff that grows on docks series. I did a lot of crawling around on slippery wood to get these pictures. People thought I was crazy, but I think I got a few good ones. You’re all in for a real treat.

Do you see how the moss follows the wood grain on that top plank?

In other news, there’s an interesting conversation about how to avoid BPA in canned foods going on here in the comments section. Rachel provided a source for BPA-free tomatoes. Thank you Rachel! Of course, they’re not organic. Sigh.

I made this for dinner on Monday. It was really good. I made enough for two dinners but Josie and I ate all the mushrooms the first night. I guess I should make more mushrooms. Maybe I could find some growing on docks and harvest them.

Oh, and look here, I’m famous. Me, Wednesday night, just after finishing my photography expedition.

48% Fatter

Perhaps you're wondering where that spare tire came from.

One of the things that bloggers are supposed to be good at is taking the news, quickly distilling it, providing an opinion and sending it back out into the world. The key word here: quickly. I’m just catching on to that whole idea. I tend to read something, mull it over, check my email, read about it again, maybe eventually write something, take some pictures, send it to someone to proofread, eat some dinner, then maybe, eons later, post it.

The news on high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been one of these issues. There’s lots of mouth-breathing going on over here (and not just because I’m thinking hard, but because Josie is potty-training and you know what that means: poop. Lots of uncontained poop.)

All this to say: oops, sorry for the delay but here’s the news in case you haven’t heard.

A Princeton Research team discovered that rats with access to HFCS and rat chow gained 48% more weight (mostly in the abdomen) than rats with access to cane sugar and rat chow. Did you hear that people? 48%. I did all that thinking and mulling and mouth breathing for nothing because I just don’t really have anything to add. 48% kinda speaks for itself, no?

One more thing, along with the weight gain came an increase in circulating triglycerides, and an increase in risks of developing, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes and (wait for it wait for it) cancer. Doesn’t it always come back to cancer?


I love this photo becuase it says so much about Judy.

I think I mentioned that I went away, into the woods, the weekend before last, no? What I didn’t mention was that I was with a group of women I met when I was in treatment. We were all diagnosed young. We were all scared. Now we’re all lucky enough to be at least 5 years out (well, almost for me).

We’d met that way before, in a big house with a gigantic deck and a hot tub where we could talk about our issues and have them be normal and relatable. We talked about our multi-racial families, about problems with the medical establishment, about our friends who were, very noticeably, absent. We didn’t talk about the mound of vitamins I took with every meal, or my bottled water, or my sleeping pills, it’s one of the few situations where these conversations don’t need to happen.

But my favorite part of the weekend was when we’d all been in the hot tub for about 30 minutes and Judy told us about the tattoo she got for her 41st birthday and 5 year cancerversary (yes she was diagnosed on her birthday).

She tells us how she brought the tattoo artist photos, images of buildings and sculptures, paintings and artwork for inspiration. When he outlined the design on her shoulder, they stood in front of a mirror and looked at it from every angle. She moved her shoulder and flexed, first her deltoid where the design curved around the muscle, then her bicep where it straightened. Then she opened and closed her elbow where the ink rolled into a coil and unintentionally pointed to the vein where blood is drawn.  

I love this story. I love picturing her there with the tattoo artist studying her arm, watching the lines change as they slide over muscle and bone, redesigning themselves with each  movement. And I love hearing about the creation of art, I think it may be what I love most.

Curried Quinoa Salad

Hey, I’ve been working on a little sumpin’ sumpin’ over here. Primarily, I think my RSS feed is finally fixed. If you haven’t had any problems: disregard. If you have had problems: try it again. Let me know if it doesn’t work (but maybe wait until Monday because I’ll be really annoyed and I’d hate to ruin my weekend).

Nothing wrong with eating a little bird seed every now and then.

Oh, I’m just kidding. It’s millet that’s in bird seed, not quinoa.

As promised: A couscous recipe that I’ve modified to quinoa to be gluten free. Even if you eat gluten, you should try it. It’s easy and good. 

Recipe: Curried Quinoa Salad


  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1 c chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c dried currants
  • 1/4 c sliced toasted almonds
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric


  1. Rinse quinoa and put in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).
  2. Cut beans into 2-inch pieces and steam for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  4. Stir together quinoa with all the other ingredients and dressing. Serve warm or cold.

Who’s in Charge Here?

A perfect start to the sailing season

Josie was sick today so I didn’t write the stuff I’d hoped. But I did manage to make it to the first night of racing on the lake, and I did manage to take a picture of these ferns growing between the slats on the dock. I think maybe I’ll start a new series of photos called: Stuff That Grows on Docks. I’ll make a book and sell it.

Dock ferns

Hey all you gardners, anyone know what this is?

Mystery plant

You remember that green carnival on gardening that I said was going to take place on April 5, well it was posted today (you should really fact check my work I’m totally unreliable). Anyhoo, apparently Anna at Green-Talk thinks maybe I’m some kind of plant identification expert. I hate to let people down. Can you help me out?

I’m off to work on my new shit that grows on docks collection!

Gluten-Free Guide

I went to the woods and played with my camera this weekend.

Seriously, being gluten-free is not the end of the world. You will not starve. You will still eat pancakes. No babies will die. Listen up, here’s your list of substitutes:

  • Brown rice pasta is fine. This brand is the one I like. The best part: the tag line is “Gluten Free Joy!” I love that. Love it.
  • I use Bragg liquid aminos instead of soy sauce. Yes, I even bring my own bottle into sushi restaurants. Just doing my best to live up to the label of self-sustaining high-maintenance.  
  • I drink this almond milk. I know, cow’s milk doesn’t contain gluten but those with celiac often have an allergy to dairy as well. This one is really the best nut beverage of its kind.   
  • I use this “bread” for toast. Really it’s nothing like toast or bread at all. Banish that thought from your mind and just go with this hard crusty thing that takes twice as long to brown. I like millet the best. You can find it in the refrigerated section of most natural food stores. 
  • I hear that this kind of “bread” is best for sandwiches.  I think they sell it at Whole Foods.
  • I don’t eat a lot of sweets or baked goods but I hear Pamela’s has some great mixes.
  • Bob’s Red Mill has some good gluten-free mixes and gluten-free oats. Oats are hotly debated in the gluten-free world. They’re often processed in the same facilities that process wheat products. Some say that even if oats are not contaminated by the facility they still contain gluten. Cut them out to be safe and test them later.
  • These are my favorite crackers. The first few times I had them I thought they were terrible. They really grow on you. Give em a try. 
  • I use brown rice flower for a cooking substitute – usually as a thickener in gravy.
  • I love this bar. It’s gluten free and contains almond butter, date paste and organic bio sprouts (whatever the hell those are). Bio-sprout joy! Yum! 
  • I didn’t eat pizza for about five years until I found this: Garlic Jim’s gluten-free pizza. The first time I had it, I put a piece on my plate and commanded silence from Paul and Josie (nearly impossible) so I could appreciate the historic moment. It was heaven. It was a monumental for me (and my waistline). They deliver to my house. Do you hear that people? I can get gluten-free pizza delivered. Oh, gluten-free joy!
  • We eat a lot of quinoa around here. I substitute it for couscous in lots of recipes and it works pretty well. I’ll post one for you to try in a few days. OK?

Hey, all you gluten-free-ers, post your tips and favorite products or recipes in the comments. Send this link to your gf friends and get them to post their favorite tips. Share the love.

Gluten-free joy to you!

Plaque-Loving Raisin-Eaters

Spinning Out of Control

Whenever Josie and I arrive somewhere by car, Josie asks for ‘one big and one widdle’ raisin to take outside. As soon as I put the car into park, I start digging through the tub of raisins I keep in the console looking for the extremes. When we get down to the bottom of a carton, and I have a bunch of picked-through medium-sized raisins, it can get tricky, but I’m not above flattening/stretching some and squishing others.

When we arrive at the dentist’s office for Josie’s first teeth cleaning, we complete our ritual before going inside. The hygienist meets us in the waiting area and reads a picture book about their office and the cleaning and tells her everything they are going to do. They have little games to play with the water thing and the suction. Truly gifted people. It’s all going so well. We’re having such a lovely time.

Then the hygienist asks what Josie eats for snack. I mention raisins. Raisins? The hygienist puts her hand to her chest and practically gasps (she may, in fact, have gasped) and begins a rant about the sugar and the sticky getting lodged in the crevasses of Josie’s teeth. For god sake woman, stop with the raisins.

I’m thinking: raisins are good for her, raisins are good for her, raisins are good for her… I manage to say something benign and non-committal like: I see your point. But this is not enough, she wants a commitment.

Have I mentioned that I have good teeth? They may not be pretty but they work real well. I don’t have any cavities. One dentist told me I had really effective plaque-reducing saliva, and I’ve grown a little cocky. I have a hard time getting worked up over tooth decay. But Josie doesn’t have my teeth or my super-duper saliva.

Then the dentist comes out and continues the sermon on the perils of dried fruit. When she’s done she looks to me for a commitment, for a confirmation that I got the message. A very rational voice in my head is saying: just nod and smile, nod and smile. Then: don’t do it. Then: for god sake, woman, keep your mouth shut. But I can’t. I say: Raisins are a good source of iron and fiber and she tends toward constipation. 

Oh god, more about the sticky –the raisin-damning continues. She goes into her office and comes back with a picture of a tooth crevasse and toothbrush bristles skimming over the top to demonstrate the brush cannot get down in there. You see lady? Can’t you see the bristles don’t get down there.   

I’m stubborn and continue to defend the raisin. I understand that they’re not good from a dental-hygiene standpoint but I’m trying to take the whole body, her whole system into account and the raisin really does have a lot to offer as far as transportable snack foods go. They come in cute little boxes or tubs to suit your needs. They can be easily handed into the back seat while driving. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some big. Some widdle.

Next thing I know she’s talking about raisins and gummy-bears as if they’re the same thing. Fine. Fine! I’ll buy her some goddamn sunflower seeds, but I won’t like it and neither will she.

Then it comes time for fluoride. The dentist tells me that Josie’s teeth have not calcified properly. They’re sticky (I wonder how many times a day she uses this word) and already starting to decay. Josie really needs fluoride. I wasn’t prepared for this discussion. You’d think I would be, I’m at a dentist after all, but she’s only two and I didn’t think they gave it to kids this young. But, of course, this raisin-hater dentist wants to apply fluoride to Josie’s teeth.

By then I’m broken-down. I’m beaten. I remember reading that babies and toddlers should use toothpaste without fluoride until they can spit it out. I mumble a question about the systemic effects of giving a young child fluoride. They apply it directly to her teeth, but will the amount she incidentally swallows be harmful to her system? The dentist tilts her head and gives me a blank stare. Eventually she responds that too much fluoride can leave brown spots on teeth. Once again, only about the teeth. (I must say that she is a damn good dentist. Perhaps she should be called a tooth-advocate.) At this point I give up and Josie has the fluoride.

When I get home I look it up, and imagine my surprise, when I don’t find too much hysteria about applying fluoride to teeth. There’s some concern with formula-fed babies getting too much fluoride for their little bodies in tap water (oops, too late now). And there is some concern about over-fluoridated water, but really not much talk of fluoride applied directly to the teeth.

Maybe that dentist was right. I guess now I’ll have to go buy a mixture of roasted pumpkin (big) and sunflower (widdle) seeds to keep in my car. But I still reserve the right to serve her dried fruit whenever the hell I feel like it, damit.